A+E Closes Cable Upfronts With A Bang

The newly renamed A+E Networks rocked the end of the cable portion of the upfront season Wednesday night with a party at the slick West Side headquarters of Barry Diller’s IAC.

Coming off its best year ever, AEN CEO Abbe Raven welcomed ad buyers and the people involved in creating its programming.

“For nearly 30 years, A+E Networks has been in the business of re-inventing storytelling. We took history out of the history books and we brought biography to life. For our viewers, we’ve told inspiring stories and broken down barriers,” Raven said. “So I just wanted to personally thank you all for your loyalty, trust and support over the years. It is because of you that we are successful at what we do. And we are so excited to write our next chapter together.”

AEN ad sales chief Mel Berning promised the crowd they wouldn’t have to sit through one more presentation. But he couldn’t resist pointing out that the company has three of the “biggest and most differentiated networks in cable,” each of which is in the “top 10 in its demographic group. ”

He introduced network general managers Bob DeBitetto of A&E and Nancy Dubuc of Lifetime and History, adding that if he had to introduce  buyers to the networks sales heads-Jim Agius, Amy Baker and Peter Olsen-at this point on the calendar-”we’re in big trouble.”

Berning also introduced the music entertainment. First the interesting Dan Band, then the powerful Jennifer Hudson.

Hudson turned the end of her set into karaoke night by wandering out into the audience and giving attendees a chance to sing along.

Next up for the upfronts: Broadcast week starting May 16, when ESPN and Turner Broadcasting join the English and Spanish-language broadcasters in the spotlight.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.